Incoming Waynesburg University freshman Rachel Redinger’s move-in day earlier this week looked very different than her brother, Roby’s, when he moved on to campus two years ago.
“It was a lot quieter than I expected. And it’s a little different with the masks – when you’re walking past somebody, they can’t tell if you’re smiling,” said Redinger, who graduated from PA Cyber Charter School and is in the Bonner Scholar Program, but has not decided on a major.
Redinger is starting her collegiate career amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and students begin fall classes on Monday.
The university is conducting classes in person, and the last day of on-campus instruction for the fall semester is Nov. 20, before Thanksgiving.
Waynesburg extended its move-in dates over a longer period of time and limited move-in times to an hour.
“Move-in has been extended over a longer period of time to respect distancing, hygiene, space, and PPE protocols in order to reduce density and crowd sizes pursuant to CDC guidance,” said Ashley Wise, director of university relations.
Additionally, students were limited to having two people help them move in. Redinger’s parents, Bob and Wendy, helped her move her belongings into her room in the South Hall.
Redinger initially was supposed to live in one of Waynesburg’s other dorms, but she has a health issue and was moved into South Hall, a newer dorm.
“Waynesburg’s been really good about everything,” said Redinger. “I’m really pleased with how they’re handling it.”
Wise said a similar number of students will be living on campus this semester as compared to previous years.
The university has implemented several safety measures as part of its Keep Waynesburg Well Plan, including making masks mandatory and observing social distancing. All triple and quad housing has been eliminated, Wise said.
Because of coronavirus, some orientation activities, including an organization fair, will be held virtually, while others will be held in small groups.
Noah Johnson, a freshman who graduated from Trinity High School and will play basketball for the Yellow Jackets, moved into his dorm room in Martin Hall on Thursday. His parents, Dave and Tammy, helped him unpack and get settled into the room.
“I feel like I’m ready. With the quarantine, I’ve been home too much,” said Johnson, who is a nursing major. “I’m happy to start the new journey.”
Students and parents were experiencing some of the typical emotions during move-in week, and there was some anxiety due to the pandemic. Wise said the university has made an extra effort to respond to questions and concerns, and said WU has received “a lot of positive feedback.”
Johnson’s mother said she is happy for him to start college, but, like many parents, is reluctant to see her oldest child leave the nest.
“I’m excited for him. I’m a little worried, like everyone, but I’m glad they’re doing in-person classes so there’s some type of normality,” said Tammy Johnson. “But, he’s not far away, so that’s a good thing.”
WU’s dining commons are open, but students have been assigned specific meal times, and grab-and-go option for meals are available.
Rachel Redinger feels freshman students are prepared for academics during the pandemic.
“We already had to deal with (COVID-19) in high school. We kind of know what’s going to be different,” she said.
Meanwhile, Roby Redinger, a junior finance major, knows that circumstances could change, and if students get sick, the school could revert back to distance learning.
“I know a lot of students worry about that, but I’m not worried about it,” said Redinger. “There are plenty of great online schools, but I was interested in the in-person experience, and I’m happy to be back.”